2017 stats: 19 submissions
2017 Shared Stories
During the holidays, I volunteered at an event to serve kids and their parents for a school christmas party, as they took pictures with Santa.
Christmas at Church
I volunteer at my church every Sunday and Wednesday. When the holidays comes along, a lot of people with show up, especially the little kids. What we do every year is to tell or reenact the Chistmas story. All the little kids, ages 2-5 are thrilled and shows excitement. The Sunday before Christmas, I always bake some little treats for the classes I volunteer. On Wednesday at my church right before the holidays, we do our annual mall manhunt where I volunteer as a fugitives and have the middle schoolers try to find me and get my signature. I found that very enjoyable. I love what I do because I get to pour out love to these amazing people every week.
This December, my school club held an event, where students were given the opportunity to buy holiday songs to be delivered to their class. On the last day of school, before winter break, my club went around, singing the songs that students had ordered. The money earned from this event was given to our town's shelter. Overall, the caroling event was an enjoyable and festive experience. I look forward to participating in it again!
The Giving Tree
This year, my school club organized an event where we had teachers, staff, and students collect gifts. These gifts were given to needy families in our community through a partnership with our town's family resource center.
My family and I donate cans to our local food pantry because we want to give everyone a chance to have a happy holidays!
Toys for Tots
One year, my family went to Toys R Us and we filled a shopping cart with toys that we later dropped off at our town's Toys for Tots bin. It was an enjoyable experience and we felt good knowing that we were shopping for other children.
My family members and I go through our closets and we find clothing items that we no longer wear. We compile the items into bags and send them to the local shelter. It is essentially spring cleaning, however, we like to do this in the winter, so that people on the streets potentially have more layers to face the cold.
Cristina's Christmas Cards, Cookies, and Cocoa
Every year I invite my friends over for a holiday card writing/ decorating party. While enjoying homemade cookies and hot cocoa, we compose heartfelt messages for the cards and adorn the envelopes with ribbon, stickers, and glitter. In the end, we deliver them to residents in nursing homes. I hope to continue to grow this project each year and help brighten the holiday season for as many people as possible. This is how I play a small part in spreading true Christmas spirit!
Breakfast with Santa
During the holidays, I volunteered for the Breakfast with Santa event at the Long Hill United Methodist Children's Center. When I volunteer, I helped set up tables and clean up, help kids with crafts and served breakfast. It was enjoyable to see the kids happy faces as they took pictures with Santa.
My friends and I make holiday cards every year for people in Nursing homes, and spent a few hours with them. The smile on their face, made my heart feel fulled with love.
2016 Shared Stories
When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey in the 1960s and 1970s, Chanukah, like Christmas, wasn't nearly as commercial as it is today. In fact, Chanukah was very low-key. My family never gave gifts on all eight nights of the holiday, despite what my friends thought! Although the gifts were nice, what I remember most is the smell of my mother's latkes and watching the candles burn on the menorah. I also remember putting together small blue and white cardboard Tzedakah boxes that we brought home from Hebrew school, and my brother and I dropping our pennies into the slit in the "pushke." In Judiasm, tzedakah is the religous obligation to do what is right and just, especially aiding those in need through donations. The boxes we dutifully filled went to the Jewish National Fund, for investment in the then-very young State of Israel, buying land and trees. Now, through social media, the concept of designating a night of Chanukah for "tzedakah" over presents has become a movement in reaction to the over commercialization of this simple holiday. I hope it overtakes the presents some day.
Homes For The Brave
I am personally very fond of the work Homes For The Brave does with our brave veterans who have served in the military. These men and women often need help getting back on their feet once they are out of the service. Around the holidays I either volunteer to serve meals there or organize fundraisers to help the residents. It is a rewarding experience to help those who have helped millions of Americans.
Holiday Skating Show
Every year I help teach younger children how to skate in preparation for a Christmas show
Stockings and blankets
At church a coat drive is run by a fellow student , and I participate in it yearly. I donate blankets and old coats that don't fit me any longer, and also help in the "saleperson". i talk to the chruch about it and tell people how to doantate. Everything donated, is given to a place in Bridgeport. I also have done stockings for the same shelter. I ask the people at my chruch to donate candy and little gifts, and put it in stockings. Last year I made 35 stockings from 2 weeks worth of donations. This year i will being starting it up sooner and plan on making 40 stockings.
Rake and Run
Every Thanksgiving, my family and I get together with our church and drive around Trumbull to rake leaves for the elderly, widows, or people who are physically incapable of raking their yard.
Growing up in Australia, I volunteered as a lifesaver at our local beach every summer. (We're lifesavers not just guards Down Under!)
Christmas was a busy day so some years I would have to patrol the beaches rather than laze around eating all day with my family. One year my whole family came down to the beach to spend it with me!
It's obviously a very different kind of Christmas to what we experience in the Northern Hemisphere. And as much as I was sorry to be away from my family some years, it was lovely to watch families enjoying themselves at the beach and helping them however I could - usually I didn't have to do much more than hand out sunscreen but one year we had to rescue a man that had been stung by a stingray out at sea.
Relieved for the holidays
My Jewish friends and I used to volunteer at the local hospitals on Christmas so that employees could go home to their families to celebrate.
Tye Family Christmas
When both my grown children and now a daughter-in-law, spend Christmas with me in Connecticut, we go to the Norwalk Homeless Shelter to help prepare the Christmas lunch. After a quick brekafast, we head over there around 9am. It is quite busy in the small kitchen space, but we are usually joined by a few others doing the same thing. We help put the turkeys and the stuffing in the ovens, mash the potatoes with butter and milk, we open big cans of string beans and put them in the big pans on top of the stove, we find the rolls to warm them, we prepare the lettuce and whatever veggies we have for salad. A group sets the tables and decorates with whatever is available. When it is all ready, we help each other make the plates, that are then served to all the waiting patrons. That to me is the most fun part. The guests are so grateful to have a warm meal, and we know that we have helped make the day a little better and more special for many who would not normally have had much.
When my sons were younger we purchased gifts and served dinner at a homeless veterans shelter. The men who lived there shared amazing stories about their lives that we will always remember.
Serving Dinner at Homes for The Brave
For several years our family tradition was helping serve Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to homeless veterans at Homes for The Brave in Bridgeport. After everyone finished eating, we would sit around and tell stories, laugh, and sometimes sing music. It always turned out to be an amazing evening.